Aired live on pay-per-view
Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena
Josh Mathews, Big Show, R-Truth, and Cody Rhodes were at the pre-show table hyping the show as Damien Sandow made his way to the ring for the Kickoff match. Show said one of the beautiful things about having an ironclad contract is getting to do what he wants, when he wants... Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler checked in from ringside as the broadcast team...
1. Sheamus vs. Damien Sandow. Sheamus received a big pop during his entrance. Sandow was aggressive early with a few headbutts. Sheamus came back with a battering ram shoulder block off the second rope for a two count. Sheamus went for his forearm shots over the ropes, but Sandow slipped away.
Sheamus went after Sandow at ringside, but ended up being run into the ring post. Sandow followed up with a big boot to the side of the face and then pulled himself under the bottom rope from the floor to kick Sheamus again. Back inside the ring, Sheamus fired back with punches and then performed a snap mare off the second rope. Sandow regained control and dropped an elbow on Sheamus and got a two count. [C]
Powell's POV: Yes, they actually had a Payback commercial during the match. I get the strategy, but I'm quite confident that everyone watching the free preview is well aware of the pay-per-view and how to order it or certainly will be by the time the show is over even without the commercial.
Lawler put over Sandow's newfound aggressiveness as he worked over Sheamus at 6:45. Sheamus caught Sandow on the ring apron and delivered the forearm shots as the fans counted along. Sandow mounted another comeback and performed a cool neckbreaker while Sheamus's legs were caught up in the ropes.
Sandow and Sheamus jockeyed for position and Sandow got the better of it before performing his neckbreaker for a two count that some fans counted along with. Sheamus was seated on the ropes when Sandow flipped him over by the arm into the ring. Sheamus started his big comeback and set up for his finisher. As he waited, there were some boos. Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Sandow and pinned him, and the cheering fans drowned out the booing fans...
Sheamus defeated Damien Sandow in 10:25.
Powell's POV: The best free preview match WWE has had since they started the online version. The end result of the babyface going over was the same, but it was really good to see Sandow get in as much offense as he did. It seemed like a portion of the crowd thought he was going to win the match when they counted along with one of his pin attempts. Sheamus was over with the masses, but some of the adult males were vocal in booing him at one point. My feed cut out right after the match concluded, but a refresh brought it back so I'm not sure how widespread it was.
A video focussed on the Three Stages of Hell match... The panel discussed the Three Stages of Hell match. Cody and Truth picked Ryback. Show said getting to the top of the mountain is easy, but staying there is difficult. Show predicted that Ryback would go out in the ambulance and Ryback would remain champion...
Powell's POV: So if getting to the top is easy, then shouldn't Ryback win the match and then lose the title quickly? Anyway, I still like the panel format on the pre-show, though I can't stress enough how much I wish they would include this as part of the pay-per-view feed rather than having a taped preview show air on the pay-per-view channel.
A video recapped the C.M. Punk vs. Chris Jericho feud... The panel spoke one more time and turned things over to the ringside broadcast team for final hype to close the show...
WWE Payback Pay-Per-View
A Chicago themed video opened the show and concluded with an image of C.M. Punk...
1. The Miz vs. Wade Barrett vs. Curtis Axel (w/Paul Heyman) in a Triple Threat for the Intercontinental Title. Axel got tossed to ringside by Miz. He then hung out at ringside with Heyman while Miz and Barrett wrestled. Miz slid through the ropes and ended up throwing Axel back inside.
At 7:30, Barrett hit Winds of Change on Miz and covered him, but Axel broke it up. Barrett set up Axel for Wasteland, but Axel slipped out and set up Barrett for the PerfectPlex and went for a cover. The adult males popped for the PerfectPlex and booed when Miz broke up the pin attempt.
The Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Axel, but Barrett broke it up. At 10:15, Miz put Barrett in the Figure Four while Axel was at ringside. Barrett inched toward the ropes, but Miz pulled him back into the center of the ring. Axel recovered and covered Barrett for the three count while Miz still had the Figure Four locked in. The crowd popped for the title change. Axel looked emotional when he looked at the belt and then looked up to the heavens. The crowd cheered as Heyman lifted Axel's arm...
Curtis Axel defeated Wade Barrett and The Miz to win the Intercontinental Title in 10:35.
Powell's POV: Wow, a much better match than I think anyone expected it to be. I didn't even do it justice in recapping it because the action was so fast paced and enjoyable. This wasn't the usual formula with one guy at ringside selling while the other two work inside the ring. It happened at times, but they did a great job of coming up with three-man spots and they had the timing down. Axel winning the Intercontinental Title on Father's Day was a cool moment for longtime fans. He's a heel and that's not the reaction you normally want to create, but I don't think it's anything that will stick. Rather, it was a live crowd cheering the historical element of it and popping for a title change all at the same time.
A Mark Henry video aired to promote his return to Raw... Backstage, Axel and Heyman bumped into a straight faced Triple H backstage. Vince McMahon showed up and said Triple H vs. Curtis Axel on Raw. "Feeling it?" Vince asked Axel. Triple H said no. "Not feeling it one bit," he said...
Cole set up footage of Kaitlyn being humiliated by Big E Langston and A.J. Lee on Raw...
2. Kaitlyn vs. A.J. Lee (w/Big E Langston) for the WWE Divas Championship. AJ blew a kiss at Kaitlyn after the bell rang to start the match. Kaitlyn went after Lee aggressively and threw her over the Spanish announce table on the floor. AJ slowed Kaitlyn down by catching her in the face with a kick through the ropes.
At 7:15, Lee dove off the ropes and was caught by Kaitlyn. She tried to spin her around into a side slam, but Lee countered into the Black Widow. Cool spot. Kaitlyn powered out of the Black Widow and followed up with a spear. She had Lee down for the count, but she picked her up, looked at her, and blew her a kiss. Kaitlyn covered Lee, but A.J. kicked out.
At 9:00, Kaitlyn charged at AJ, who pulled herself onto the top rope. Kaitlyn crashed hard into the corner. Lee applied the Black Widow again. Kaitlyn tried to power out again, but Lee held her foot around her neck. Kaitlyn eventually tapped out.
Kaitlyn cried after the match and the crowd chanted "You tapped out" at her. She broke down in the aisle. Layla came out and consoled her. The crowd let out a big "awwwwww." Funny...
A.J. Lee defeated Kaitlyn by submission to win the WWE Divas Championship in 10:00.
Powell's POV: JBL was quick to point out that Kaitlyn only had herself to blame because she had her beat but opted to blow her a kiss instead of pinning her. The middle portion of the match was a little slow and lacked heat, but the action down the stretch was really good. Kaitlyn mustered up real tears afterward. The crowd was pretty merciless with the silly tap out chant, though it was pretty comical. I was worried they were going to kill off the Black Widow forever by having Kaitlyn escape it again and win the match. Instead, it was laid out well with Kaitlyn looking strong enough to get out of the hold once, but failing the second time. It finally feels like we have a real Divas feud.
Backstage, Kaitlyn was consoled by Layla, Alicia Fox, and Natalya... A commercial aired for WWE Money in the Bank. For whatever it's worth, Rey Mysterio and Christian were both shown in the video... The pre-show panel of Josh Mathews, Big Show, R-Truth, and Cody Rhodes spoke about the two title changes... A Wyatt Family video aired...
3. Dean Ambrose vs. Kane for the U.S. Championship. Ambrose targeted Kane's left knee early and often. The action was slow paced as Kane sold for most of the first seven minutes. Ambrose went to the ropes and yelled "Old School." Kane flung him down to the mat and threw some punches, running clotheslines, and a side slam to get a two count.
Ambrose clotheslined Kane over the top rope, but Kane came right back with a big boot that knocked Ambrose to the floor. Ambrose slapped Kane, who came right back with an uppercut. Kane tore the Spanish broadcast table part. Ambrose DDT'd Kane on the floor. Ambrose rolled back inside the ring and the referee counted Kane out...
Dean Ambrose defeated Kane by count out to retain the U.S. Championship in 9:35.
Powell's POV: A little more entertaining than their Raw match, but still pretty slow paced.
A Rob Van Dam video package hyped his return for Money in the Bank...
Powell's POV: Wow, that's surprising considering that Triple H had been talking negatively to co-workers about the prospects of bringing RVD back into the fold. A smokescreen? Either way, it's a nice hook for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view given Van Dam's popularity, his style, and because the event takes place in ECW country in Philadelphia, Pa. I'm curious to see whether RVD is returning to the active roster or just doing a one-off for MITB.
4. Dolph Ziggler (w/AJ Lee, Big E Langston) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) for the World Heavyweight Championship. Lilian Garcia delivered in-ring introductions for the World Title match. There was a loud chant for Ziggler to start the match.
Ziggler slammed Ziggler's head into the announcers' table a couple times. Big E Langston got in Del Rio's face. Del Rio shoved Langston, who responded by shoving Del Rio to the ground. The referee stepped in and ordered Langston to head backstage.
Later, Dolph applied a sleeper hold on Del Rio. He escaped the hold and then kicked Ziggler in the head. Del Rio placed Ziggler on the second rope and fired shots to his kidneys and then followed up with a big punch to the back of Ziggler's head. Del Rio set up for another move and mugged for the crowd, giving Dolph time to counter with a neckbreaker for a two count.
JBL said the referee may want to step in for Ziggler's health. Ziggler fired up and performed a Fameasser that looked really poor. Fortunately, it wasn't the finish, as Del Rio kicked out at two. The adult males continued to chant for Ziggler. Del Rio performed an inverted superplex for a good near fall. Cole said Ziggler kicking out had to be on pure instinct. JBL said it was a gutsy performance by Ziggler.
With Ziggler on the floor, Del Rio caught him with a kick. The trainer stepped in with a light and shined it in Ziggler's eyes. Del Rio caught Ziggler with another kick to the head. Back inside the ring, Del Rio performed yet another kick to the back of Dolph's head and covered him. Dolph kicked out at two and the crowd popped.
At 13:10, Del Rio got cocky as he picked up Ziggler, who performed a Zig Zag out of nowhere for a two count. Del Rio came back with the superkick to the head of the kneeling Ziggler and pinned him clean. There was a loud Ziggler chant afterward, and Lee looked concerned and disappointed as Dolph held his head and struggled to walk backstage...
Alberto Del Rio defeated Dolph Ziggler to win the World Heavyweight Championship in 13:55.
Powell's POV: So much for the double turn in the C.M. Punk match, as it appears we got it here instead. What babyface targets the head of a concussed opponent and delivers repeated kicks? The crowd booed Del Rio, but the adult male Ziggler fans were booing him anyway. The announcers didn't really turn on Del Rio as much as the crowd did, but Ziggler was clearly made out to be sympathetic. A surprising and interesting development.
The panel spoke about the title change briefly...
Alberto Del Rio cut a promo while standing on the stage with Ricardo applauding him. Del Rio asked the fans for their support. They booed. Del Rio said the fans all know he is one of the best in the business. Del Rio said that he deserves to be their champion. He asked the fans to give it up for him one more time. Ricardo did the big Del Rio introduction line over the boos of the fans...
Powell's POV: Del Rio never clicked as a babyface the way WWE wanted him to, so I'm fine with him turning heel. I was hoping for a lengthy heel title reign from Ziggler, but he is definitely a sympathetic figure with the head trauma issues costing him the title, and he could be a very good babyface. This is certainly the most newsworthy first half of a pay-per-view we've seen in a long time.
A video set up the Chris Jericho vs. C.M. Punk match... Chris Jericho made his entrance. He was booed once his music stopped playing and the crowd broke out in a loud C.M. Punk chant. The crowd popped big when Punk walked onto the stage with his hoodie pulled over his head and with Paul Heyman by his side.
Heyman held out his watch, Punk checked it, then yelled, "It's clobberin' time!" No new music for Punk after all. Punk, who had the Wolverine facial hair going, played to the crowd. Punk wore Chicago Blackhawks logos on his trunks and boots...
5. C.M. Punk vs. Chris Jericho. The bell rang and the C.M. Punk chants continued. The camera closed in on Punk, who looked right into it before locking up with Jericho. The crowd cheered Punk's offense and booed Jericho when he shoulderblocked Punk to the mat. Jericho flashed a smile to the crowd.
At 9:00, Punk went for the bulldog, but Jericho pushed him off and followed up with a Lionsault for the win. Heyman looked frustrated and a bit concerned at ringside. Punk came back with a GTS attempt, but Jericho elbowed out of it and countered with the Walls of Jericho. "No!" Heyman yelled at ringside repeatedly.
Powell's POV: It's hard to buy into Jericho's offense when you know Punk could just pop the blades out of his fists and stab him through the chest whenever he wants to. #wolverine
Punk reached up and grabbed Jericho by the head and eventually applied the Anaconda Vice. Punk motioned for the GTS. He went for the move and said, "Blackhawks in seven." Jericho went Zdeno Chara on his ass, er, he avoided the GTS and coming back with a Codebreaker for a two count.
Later, Punk connected with a top rope elbow drop and then signaled for the GTS. Punk hoisted up Jericho for his finisher and connected with the move, but Jericho kicked out at the last moment. The live crowd really thought that was the finish. A "one more time" chant broke out.
Punk went for the move again, but Jericho elbowed out of it. Jericho went for the Codebreaker, but Punk pushed him off and then clotheslined him over the top rope. Punk performed a suicide dive. The fans in front of Punk slapped their hands on the barricade ROH style and another Punk chant broke out.
Punk rolled Jericho back inside the ring at 17:30. Punk went to the ropes and leapt off for a move, but Jericho caught him with a Codebreaker on the way down in an awesome spot. Jericho covered Punk, who kicked out at two. The crowd chanted "This is awesome" and they were right.
At 20:00, Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho on Punk in the middle of the ring. The crowd chanted for Punk and Heyman begged him not to tap while showing concern at ringside. Punk took repeated shots at Jericho's knee and eventually broke out of the hold, though Jericho held onto Punk's ankle. Punk caught Jericho with repeated shots and then followed up with a GTS that knocked Jericho into the corner, and a second one that put him down for the 1-2-3...
C.M. Punk defeated Chris Jericho in 21:30.
Powell's POV: Goddamn! Punk looked tanned, rested, and whatever the opposite of rusty is. They had a hell of a match with believable near falls for both men. In fact, the Jericho near falls were good enough to make me wonder a couple times whether the big surprise would be that Punk came up short in his hometown. That's very impressive considering I thought the only way Jericho would win is if there was a double turn. The live crowd was red hot and the match was an absolute blast. We're almost at the top of the hour and we still have the tag title match and a Three Stages of Hell match.
After Punk and Heyman headed backstage, The Shield music hit quickly. Ambrose came out with the tag champions and sent them on their way...
6. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Rollins got the better of Bryan early, which gave the crowd a chance to catch their breath. Bryan tagged in Orton at 3:00. He performed a hanging DDT on Reigns and it didn't get the type of reaction it normally would. The heels regained control and isolated Orton in their corner as the crowd was still in hangover mode, though they did pep up with a loud RVD chant at 6:00.
The crowd came back to life when Bryan took the hot tag and kicked into his offensive flurry of running dropkicks and kicks at 8:50. A short time later, Bryan went for a suicide dive on both opponents, but they moved and Bryan hit Orton with the dive instead. Orton recovered and Bryan ended up taking a spear from Reigns, but Orton dropped him with the RKO. Rollins knocked Orton to the floor, then followed up with a running curb stomp(?) on Bryan and pinned him...
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship at 12:15.
Powell's POV: Orton basically sacrificed Orton by running Bryan into the spear, so look for that to be an issue on television this week. I don't see this as a big blow to Bryan's push. He has the out that Orton sacrificed him. It still looks like they are setting up Bryan vs. Orton to me. By the way, at the urging of a few readers, I went back and watched the post-match involving Punk and Heyman again. Heyman was supportive and then Punk said something that made Heyman's facial expression change. Heyman went back to applauding, then shot him a serious look again. There's another one they could file up on this week.
A commercial aired for Fatherhood.gov... The announcers set up a video package for for the Three Stages of Hell match...
Powell's POV: Yes, an actual taxpayer funded ad campaign designed to tell viewers to be good fathers. I wonder if Representative Betty McCollum is okay with tax money being spent to tell us lowlife wrestling fans not to be shitty fathers since she was opposed to pro wrestling companies getting ad money from the National Guard.
Justin Roberts introduced the main event and explained the rules of each fall. He said 30 men would be at ringside for the lumberjack match, then there would be a tables match, followed by the ambulance match...
The lumberjacks included a lot of guys who had not worked the show, including 3MB, Great Khali, Primo, Epico, Tons of Funk, Yoshi Tatsu, Zack Ryder, Justin Gabriel, and some who did including Sheamus and Curtis Axel. Cena received a lot of boos, but he also had a lot of younger fans in the building. Ryback was booed almost unanimously when Roberts introduced him. The mix for Cena was roughly 70-30 in favor of the boos.
7. John Cena vs. Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match for the WWE Championship. Ryback placed Cena in a side headlock, which gave Cena a chance to redo his belt. Ryback threw Cena outside the ring to the heel side. They took a few shots at him and then threw him back inside the ring while Miz and other babyfaces jawed at them. Ryback told everyone he rules and then threw Cena to the heels again.
Another RVD chant broke out. Cena threw Ryback to the heel side and they let him get back inside the ring without any issues even though Ryback has beaten up 3MB more than Cena ever has. Ryback said it was time to finish the match. Cena picked him up and dropped him over the top rope to the floor. Ryback shoved a wrestler and a big brawl broke out on the floor.
Cena stumbled as he climbed the ropes, but once he regained his footing he performed a big dive onto everyone on the floor. Most of the wrestlers fell down like bowling pins in a comical moment. Back inside the ring, Cena applied the STF. Ryback got out of it and Shellshocked Cena and scored a clean pin.
Ryback defeated John Cena in a lumberjack match in 7:30 to win the first fall.
Powell's POV: If you have a DVR, go back right now and watch Sin Cara from the second angle they showed during the replay of Cena's big dive off the top. It's laugh out loud funny to watch his ultra-delayed fall.
Cole said Ryback could win the WWE Championship if he puts Cena through a table. The lumberjacks disappeared. Ryback set up a table and went for a powerbomb through the table, but Cena avoided it. Ryback came back with a spear. The obligatory Goldberg chant started and faded quickly.
Ryback pressed Cena and was about to slam him through the table, but Cena slipped out and Cena hoisted him up for the AA. Ryback reached out and flipped the table over to avoid being put through it. Cole said we learned a lot about Ryback from that table flipping. Ryback avoided the AA and went back on the offensive.
Ryback picked up the ring steps and slammed them into Cena's head. He threw the stairs at Cena, who moved, causing the stairs to crash through a table in the corner. Cena came back by slamming Ryback down and then and ramming the stairs into his head. Cena went to ringside and slid a table inside the ring.
As Cena was setting up the table, Ryback picked up the stairs and struck Cena with them. He tried to slam the stairs down on Cena, but Cena moved and the stairs crashed through the second table. Ryback threw the stairs at Cena, who moved, causing the stairs to fly into the entrance aisle.
At 15:00, Ryback stood in the corner and said, "Meathook engaged." He caught Cena with a Meathook Clothesline. Ryback went to ringside and set up another table inside the ring. Cena came back with an Attitude Adjustment and drove Ryback through the table.
John Cena won the second fall tables match to even the falls at 16:00.
Ryback popped up quickly after taking the Attitude Adjustment through the table. Ryback took Cena to ringside and powerbombed him through the Cole, JBL, and Lawler broadcast table. Ryback looked down at Cena and told him it's only going to get worse from here.
Powell's POV: Insert your own joke here.
There were dueling "Let's Go Cena" and "Cena Sucks" chants. Once Ryback got Cena back inside the ring, they rang the bell to officially start the Ambulance match. Um, okay. Ryback picked up Cena and carried him over toward the ambulance. Cena slipped away and rammed Ryback into the ambulance.
Cena opened the side door and pulled out a crutch. Ryback swung at Cena, who ducked, and Ryback put his hand through the passenger's side window.
Powell's POV: Where are the Goldberg chants when you really need them?
With the driver's side door open, Cena whipped Ryback into it and it came off its hinges. Cena picked up the door and rammed it into Ryback. Cena tried to force Ryback into the ambulance through the driver's side door. Ryback's elbow hit the horn a couple times. Ryback pulled the side panel off the ambulance and struck Cena with it a couple times.
Cena went to the top of the ambulance and tore the flasher lights off the top and struck Ryback with them. Ryback stood up and grabbed the crutch that Cena pulled out earlier. Ryback went to the top of the ambulance, where Cena took the crutch and slammed it over Ryback's back. Cena performed the AA on the roof of the ambulance. Ryback apparently crashed through the roof of the ambulance even though they didn't have a good shot of it, as Cena held up his hands in victory and was named the winner...
John Cena defeated Ryback in a Three Stages of Hell match in 24:35.
Cena went to the ring to celebrate with his WWE Championship. The ambulance siren played. Scott Steiner did not come out. They replayed the finish from a better angle and it looked much more cooler. The ambulance left the arena with Ryback inside, leaving Cena to continue celebrating in the ring. Cena headed toward the back, looked into the camera, and talked about getting payback to close the show...
Powell's POV: Either that ambulance was a Yugo or they don't make ambulances like they used to. Okay, so I've never actually fought anyone in or around an ambulance, but they tore that thing apart with ease and the roof caved in quickly. Either the production truck is guilty of a lousy live shot or they were worried it wouldn't look good when Ryback crashed through. The main event felt like the flattest match of the night. They worked hard, but the rest of the show was simply more entertaining.
Overall, the first two hours of the pay-per-view were a blast. Yes, you should order the replay if you're considering doing so. The last hour wasn't as strong and the wrong match headlined this show. They had no trouble putting Cena in the main event slot when Punk was champion, and I don't see any reason why Punk vs. Jericho couldn't have headlined here. Even so, it was an entertaining pay-per-view that exceeded my expectations.
Thanks for watching along with me tonight. Dot Net Members can look forward an exclusive audio review of the WWE Payback pay-per-view with Chris Shore and I later tonight. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by signing via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.